Do you sometimes just hate yourself? Are you uncomfortable in your own body and unhappy with how you interact with the world around you? A lack of self-love is often a result of growing up in a family where love was served with hurtfulness and dysfunction. It could also be the cost of spending time in a relationship where you didn’t feel valued.
When you don’t show yourself love, you will continuously (usually subconsciously) take self-sabotaging actions that keep you from the love and happiness you deserve. You won’t just hurt yourself. You'll hurt those around you as well.
Self-hatred has a way of spilling out into every area of your life—your career, your relationships, and your health.
Here are 11 signs you might not love yourself—and how to turn the self-hatred into acceptance:
1. You love to please others.
When you’re not rooted in your own worth, you go out of the way to make others happy. A lack of inner love translates into a need for constant approval and appreciation by others. You couldn’t imagine someone disapproving of you or being unhappy with you in any way.
Take note of the times you go against your own will and do something you don’t want to do. Start to become aware of this behavior. The first step to ending the people-pleasing game is to acknowledge that you're playing it. Once you acknowledge it, you can stand up and speak for yourself.
2. You have a difficult time saying no.
Not only do you want others to be happy, but you also want to be agreeable. You show up to help, go out of your way to be there for someone, and are enthusiastically present for the people you care about. Unfortunately, your life is governed by other people’s priorities and needs.
Practice saying “no” to small, inconsequential things. Practice saying no to requests from acquaintances and work colleagues. Work your way up to saying “no” to people you love and care about.
3. You don’t believe you’re enough.
You feel a void inside. You feel unworthy. You spend your days trying to get attention, stand out, and be noticed. You spend your days trying to please and be liked by others. Your feelings are quickly hurt by the slightest offense. Every perceived and real slight against you is overblown. You are lacking in all aspects of your life. You don’t believe you deserve a good career, to be paid what you’re worth, or to be loved by others.
As cliché as it may sound, the only way to change your beliefs about yourself is to change the thoughts you allow yourself to have. Capturing your thoughts via a journal, sharing your thoughts with a professional, and being more mindful of your thinking are ways to change the pattern. Once you recognize these thoughts, you can substitute negative messages to yourself with more-positive ones.
Work on healing your heart and building up your self-worth. Find activities that help you feel good about yourself. Take part in sports or other activities that build up your self-image. Practice opening your heart to accepting gifts, compliments, love, and compassion.
4. You compare yourself to others every chance you get.
Even if the conversation isn’t about you, your thoughts will immediately compare someone else with yourself. You’ll go out of your way to look for people who are smarter, kinder, better-looking, healthier, nicer, friendlier, etc.
Remove yourself from situations where you feel like you’re comparing yourself. Spend less time on social media and unfollow people who make you feel worse about yourself. Spend less time with people who intentionally or subconsciously make you feel less than.
5. You think your life is a mistake.
You ask yourself why you were even born and what good you are for the world.
Stop asking. If these questions persist, talk to a counselor. Remind yourself regularly of the value and love you bring to the world. Reaffirm to yourself all the positive ways you’ve contributed.
6. You don’t believe you can do anything right.
You focus on your mistakes, faults, and inadequacies. You imagine the worst-case scenario in every situation and expect that you’ll screw it up.
Reflect on all of your wins, both big and small. Think about all the times you got it right, solved the problem, and met the challenge at hand. Acknowledge that you’ve succeeded far more often than you’ve failed.
7. You hate your body.
You don’t want to be seen by people and are afraid of what they’ll think about your body. You can’t look at yourself in the mirror.
Ask yourself if this is really about what you think of your body or if it's more about what you're afraid others will think of your body. If it’s about you, ask yourself what is causing the self-hatred. Past thoughts, experiences, or negativity? Do you hate your body or do you hate it compared to others?
Take the focus off of what others think and focus on yourself. If you’re not happy with your body and feel like you need to work on it, focus on the work. Get into the shape that makes you feel good about yourself. Do it for you, not for anyone else.
8. You feel ashamed of yourself.
You are embarrassed and don’t think much of yourself. You have regular feelings of hiding yourself or disappearing from the scene.
Create an image in your mind of your most empowered, positive self. Ask yourself what it’s going to take to get to that place. Take action to embrace your vulnerabilities, let go of your negative feelings, and affirm your worth. Employ all the tools available to you—from mindfulness and journaling to exercise and therapy—to help you embrace your self-worth.
9. You don’t believe people like you.
Your default thought is that others don’t care for you.
Don’t make these assumptions based on your skewed view of the world. If your default assumption is that people don’t like you, explore it. Pursue those relationships. Look at the actions of others objectively and try to understand their intentions without bias. Spend more time with people who care for you and cut ties with people who don’t.
Not everyone in the world is going to like us; pick your friends and keep the haters far away.
10. You’re drawn to others who don’t love themselves.
You choose relationships where your partner is also self-sabotaging and takes their pain out on you.
If you’re in a relationship like this, look for an exit door. If you’re drawn to relationships like this, become aware of the pattern of attraction to partners who are self-sabotaging. Look for clues of self-hating behaviors and be on the lookout for people who don’t love themselves. If someone can’t love themselves, they're not going to be able to love you.
11. You treat others poorly.
Your negativity spills out to others and you treat them poorly, even though you feel bad about it later.
Treat yourself gently. Repeat positive affirmations to yourself. Read uplifting books and surround yourself with encouraging people. Treat yourself the way you would treat someone you care about. Exercise, eat well, and get enough sleep. Once you treat yourself with love, respect, and kindness, you’ll start treating others the same.